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When doctors amputate the wrong limb

Coming to terms with having an arm or leg amputated is incredibly difficult. Your entire world is irretrievably altered and will never again be the same.

But undergoing an amputation of the wrong limb due to a medical error is just beyond the pale. The problem is compounded by the fact that the unhealthy limb that remains still requires amputation, which leaves you utterly dependent on others for your most basic care.

Yet unfortunately, those scenarios are not all that rare. While these wrong-site surgeries are called "never events," they do indeed happen. Some of the reasons given for them include:

  • Two patients with similar or same names are mixed up
  • There is a mix-up in scheduling of the surgical suite
  • A medical professional's poor handwriting is misinterpreted
  • A doctor is forgetful

Of course, there is no excuse that is sufficient to excuse such an egregious medical mistake. In fact, medical facilities have all sorts of protocols and checks and balances to ensure that these mistakes don't occur. When they do, it is often likely that several people dropped the ball.

Some of those protocols include double-checking with the patient before they are sedated, rechecking their wristband once they are unconscious and re-reading the chart notes prior to surgery. Patients can also help prevent this disaster by using a Sharpie to boldly write, "Wrong Leg" or "Do Not Cut" on the healthy limb.

It is hoped that nobody will ever again suffer a wrong-site surgery, especially one involving amputation of the wrong limb. However, should you ever face those most unfortunate circumstances, filing a claim for damages is the first step toward recovery financial compensation for your permanent disability and losses.

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